RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – He shot a man outside a Shockoe Bottom night club. Now a jury says 21-year-old Kevin Cunningham should stay in prison for the next 25 years. Cunningham was convicted Monday morning of the second degree murder of Jeremy Uzzle.
Saturday would have been Jeremy Uzzle's 21st birthday. His family went to his gravesite to cry, place flowers and release balloons. It was another emotional day for them. They sat and watched as the life of another 21-year-old was also forever changed.
Their hearts will forever be broken, but Jeremy Uzzle's family says they feel a little mended today.
"We got justice yes! And Jeremy was happy. He's at peace now. Yes, we are all at peace," said Jeremy's mother Patricia Riggans.
Peace, after a grueling three day trial where their son was described by the defense as a troublemaker.
"He's not a thug, he's not into gangs, and he's not in the mob. He's not a hooligan. Jeremy was just an ordinary kid," Riggans said.
He was 20, loved music, he graduated high school in Petersburg at the age of 16. He was about to start college at Norfolk State. Jeremy Uzzle had his whole life before him, when an argument and fight outside the Have a Nice Day Café in Shockoe Bottom ended everything.
Police had broken up the fight. Kevin Cunningham left, went to a friend's car, grabbed a gun and went back. He fired one fatal shot into the chest of Jeremy Uzzle.
Rachel DePompa: "He'll be 46-years-old when he gets out?"
Patricia Riggans: "That's okay. Jeremy won't live to see 46. He's not here to see 46."
"He can get out. He can have a family, can have kids. He can do whatever he wants. We'll never get to see Jeremy again," said Italia Talley, Jeremy's girlfriend.
"I just wish he was here," said Jeremy's sister Tonika Uzzle.
Kevin Cunningham's attorney says his client is not a bad guy.
"I think that he just felt he was in a…he ended up in a very tough situation," said Cunningham's attorney Reuben Greene.
Jeremy's family calls Kevin's actions senseless.
"Two lives is gone, one is in jail. And the other one is deceased, over you going out and having a good time," said Jeremy's aunt Amanda White.
His aunt says there's a lesson in this for all young people who go out, and may have an argument with another person.
"Just take this trial as a lesson. If you do that, if you go out and get drunk or whatever the young kids do, make sure, just go home," stated White. "Don't grab a gun."
Kevin Cunningham cried and apologized to the Uzzle family in court Monday morning. Cunningham's attorney says he plans to appeal the jury's decision. A judge will decide whether to uphold the jury's sentence at a hearing in December.